Fiji’s Cabinet has agreed that Rugby League Bid (Fiji) Limited facilitate the bid to secure a licence to enter the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) premiership competition with men and women rugby league teams in the 18th extension franchise.

A successful bid would mean significant player opportunities and extensive profiling of Fiji that will bring major positive economic and social benefits for Fiji.

Cabinet also approved an official endorsement of the bid by Rugby League Bid (Fiji) Limited to be conveyed to the Australian Rugby League Commission by the Minister for Youth & Sports.

Cabinet also approved a 200 percent tax rebate to sponsors for Rugby League Bid (Fiji) Limited as currently awarded to sponsors of the Fijian Drua to be considered through the 2024 – 2025 Budget process.

Meanwhile, Rugby league legend and Kaiviti Silktails chairman Petero Civoniceva has revealed his desire to one day have a Fiji franchise in the NRL as the competition continues to expand.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has flagged in recent interviews’ his desire for 20 teams to play in the NRL, with the Dolphins the latest edition.

Fiji recently hosted a trial match between the Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights which has led to plans for the country to one day host a NRL premiership match.

Civoniceva, who is an ambassador for Fiji Airways, was present at the trial match and described it as “fantastic” before indicating his hopes for more matches to be played there.

“I think Fiji Airways gave a great promotion in terms of having league played in Fiji for the first time,” he told Wide World of Sports.

“… The way (both sides) they integrated into the community was really pleasing and left a lot of people wanting more so hopefully there’s good signs for more rugby league to be played in Fiji.

“I think definitely more trial matches and hopefully a (premiership) game, we’ve definitely got the ability to do that there in Fiji and I think the tourism market is so big, and sports tourism, maybe that goes hand in hand, so I think there’s lots of potential to play more games in Fiji.”

The former Broncos and Panthers prop added there’s potential for that NRL presence in the country to grow into a fully fledged side.

“As development pathways grow and obviously our Silktails team keeps growing and maturing, our development program can hopefully one day lean into support of an NRL bid,” he said.

“I think Fiji’s definitely got the talent there and you see that in world rugby with the amount of Fijians that are playing on the world stage. Eventually that opportunity would certainly mean more players crossing codes or obviously being part of a development pathway in the country to hopefully be a part of something like that.”

Fiji’s lead up to an NRL bid in the future isn’t an idea that’s come up overnight.

In 2020, the Silktails made a historic agreement with the NSWRL with the side participating in the Ron Massey Cup.

At the time, Civoniceva stated the move had taken a long time to come to fruition.

“It’s been about six years in the making but something of this nature was always going to take time,” he said in 2020.

In the Silktails’ first match, they thrashed Windsor Wolves 40-16. COVID caused interruptions with the side claiming three sixth placed finishes in a row from 2021 to 2023.

This year they’ll play in the Jersey Flegg under 21s competition with Civoniceva putting significant emphasis on ensuring the development pathways are in perfect shape.

“I think that’s absolutely key if you’re going to have a franchise or anything of that sort, that you’ve got to have a very strong and robust development pathway for your primary school kids all the way into high school and leading into a senior competition,” he said.

“That’s certainly something Fiji has and I know with great support and more opportunities like playing in the NSWRL, we can grow that next level of NRL and NRLW players for future from Fiji,” he said.